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THE level crossing where a truck and train crashed in 2007, killing 11 people, had five near misses the previous year, an inquest has heard.
Former police inspector Garry Bennett told an inquest into the rail disaster that train operator V/Line advised him train drivers had five near misses with vehicles at the crossing north of Kerang before the fatal crash.
Mr Bennett said the advice, given in July 2006, prompted him to arrange an article in the local newspaper and a broadcast on the local ABC radio station warning people about rail crossing dangers, particularly at the one near Kerang.
Police also patrolled the crossing several times between August and October 2006, but no offences were detected.
Mr Bennett, who spent nine years policing the region, said he was not aware of any problems with the crossing until told by V/Line.
On the day of the crash, June 5, 2007, he went to the scene and took charge.
Mr Bennett said emergency crews were fortunate to have had five air ambulances in the area, all of which responded in a short time to fly the critically injured direct to Melbourne.
He said all emergency service personnel handled themselves well, given the trauma they witnessed.
"For anywhere in the country, you wouldn't get a better response from our paramedics to be on the scene so quick," he said.
The inquest has previously heard criticism of the way emergency services handled the disaster.
It has also been told local medical professionals were upset and angry they were not called out to the scene to help.
Dr Michael Moynihan, Victorian president of the Rural Doctors' Association, was critical of a "scoop and run" culture whereby rural facilities and medics were bypassed and patients were instead sent to Melbourne.
He said local doctors had trauma experience and were routinely called for emergencies in Kerang.
But Mr Bennett said doctors were better placed to treat the injured in hospitals.
"In this incident the very best medical service was provided and was completed before local doctors could have properly responded," he said.
"From an emergency coordination viewpoint, it is my opinion that doctors were better utilised by remaining at the hospitals in preparation to treat those with minor injuries."
The inquest continues tomorrow.
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